Notes on machine learning and exceptions

Statistical machine learning has been the de-facto standard in NLP research and practice. However, its very success might be hiding its the problems. One such problem is exceptions.

Natural language is full of exceptions: idiomatic phrases that defy compositionality, irregular verbs and exceptions to grammatical rules, or unexpected events that, though not linguistic phenomena themselves, happen to be communicated via language. So far, statistical NLP has treated them as inconvenient oddity and, in most cases, swept them under the rug, hoping that they wouldn’t reduce F-score.

But a system doesn’t really understand language without handling exceptions and I will argue that (not) handling exceptions has important consequences to machine learning. Continue reading

A paper is the tip of an iceberg

I was reading Clark and Manning (2016) and studying their code. The contrast is just amazing.

This is what the paper has to say:

architecture

This is what I found after 1 hour of reading a JSON file and writing down all layers of the neural net (the file is data/models/all_pairs/architecture.json, created when you run the experiment):

deep-coref.png
Without the source code, this would be a replication nightmare for sure.

References

Clark, K., & Manning, C. D. (2016). Improving Coreference Resolution by Learning Entity-Level Distributed Representations. Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, 643–653. http://doi.org/10.18653/v1/P16-1061

Hyperparameter tuning in SURFsara HPC Cloud

Hyperparameter tuning is difficult, not because it’s terribly complicated but obtaining enough resource is often not easy. I’m lucky enough to work at Vrije Universiteit and therefore can access the SURFsara HPC Cloud with not too much effort. Compared to Amazon EC2 (the only other cloud solution I have tried before), the functionality is rather basic but I think suits the needs of many researchers. Using the web interface or OpenNebula API, you can easily customize an image, attach hard drive, launch 10 instances and access any of them using a public key. What else do you need to run your experiments? Continue reading

Reproducing Chen & Manning (2014)

Neural dependency parsing is attractive for several reasons: first, distributed representation generalizes better, second, fast parsing unlocks new applications, and third, fast training means parsers can be co-trained with other NLP modules and integrated into a bigger system.

Chen & Manning (2014) from Stanford were the first to show that neural dependency parsing works and Google folks were quick to adopt this paradigm to improve the state-of-the-art (e.g. Weiss et al., 2015).

Though Stanford open-sourced their parser as part of CoreNLP, they didn’t release the code of their experiments. As anybody in academia probably knows, reproducing experiments is non-trivial, even extremely difficult at times. Since I have painstakingly gone through the process, I think it’s a good idea to share with you.

Continue reading

A new proof of the equivalence of word2vec’s SGNS and Shifted PMI

[removed section]

At the heart of the argument was Levy and Goldberg’s proof that minimizing the loss of Skip-gram negative sampling (SGNS) is effectively approximating a shifted PMI matrix. Starting with the log-likelihood, they worked their way to local objective for each word-context pair and compare its derivative to zero to arrive at a function of PMI. One might rightly question if the loss function is essential in this proof or there is a deeper link between the two formalizations?

My answer: Yes, there is. Continue reading